Southern Cornbread with Molasses-Bourbon Butter

Last weekend we made this recipe for corn bread and the accompanying butter spread to go with stew.  The corn bread recipe itself seemed a little pedestrian so we kicked it up a notch and made more of a Mexican corn bread by adding real corn kernels and diced jalapeno peppers.  I'd give the bread 3 of 5 stars.

The butter, on the other hand, was a great touch.  The reviews on cooking light are correct that the molasses-bourbon combo can be a bit overpowering, but using a little less than what's called for and giving it a day or so to gel together made a big difference.  4 out of 5 for the spread.

From Cooking Light


2/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 ounces)
1 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fat-free buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
5 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
2 teaspoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon bourbon
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Preheat oven to 425°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and egg; stir just until combined.

Place an 8-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven for 5 minutes, and remove from oven. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons butter to pan; swirl to melt and lightly grease pan. Stir melted butter into batter. Add batter to preheated pan. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Slice into 8 wedges.

Combine remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, molasses, bourbon, and rind in a small bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined (about 1 minute). Serve butter with warm corn bread.
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 corn bread wedge and about 1 teaspoon butter)

CALORIES 231(30% from fat); FAT 7.8g (sat 4.7g,mono 2.1g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 5.4g; CHOLESTEROL 46mg; CALCIUM 118mg; SODIUM 349mg; FIBER 1g; IRON 1.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.5g

Sea Scallops in Chanpagne Sauce

Last week Gret and I made the Scallops in Champagne Sauce.  We served a simple salad on the side.  Make sure your skillet is hot enough to brown each side of the scallop so you get the proper texture when making this.  This one gets a 4 out of five. The sauce was great.


1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 4 ounces)
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1/2 cup Champagne or sparkling wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Pat scallops dry with a paper towel. Add scallops to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Add mushrooms and shallots to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates and mushrooms darken. Stir in Champagne, mustard, salt, and tarragon, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream. Serve with scallops.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 4 ounces scallops and 3 tablespoons sauce)
CALORIES 238(33% from fat); FAT 8.6g (sat 2g,mono 3.9g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 30.3g; CHOLESTEROL 64mg; CALCIUM 76mg; SODIUM 534mg; FIBER 0.4g; IRON 1.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8.1g

Grandpa Klima’s Beef and Beer Chili

This is an old family recipe that's always won rave reviews from guests. Best served with saltines, some shredded cheddar, and some corn bread. 

  • 3-3.5 lbs lean hamburger
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 1 32oz can tomatoes sauce
  • 1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes (with green chili's)
  • 1 16 oz can of dark red kidney beans
  • 1 tbs masa flour
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 6 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 heaping tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 12 oz beer
  • 12 oz water

Saute hamburger, onion, and green pepper in large skillet. Add tomatoes sauce and diced tomatoes to a large pot with beer and water.  Grandpa used Budwieser, but for a more refined flavor choose a dark micro-brew of your choice.  🙂 Drain the hamburger and add it to the large pot and bring to a simmer.  Add the spices and simmer for 1 hour. Add the kidney beans and simmer for another 30 minutes. 


Artichoke, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Shells

Here is another 5 star recipe lifted from Cooking Light.  I can't say that everything from cooking light is indeed "light", but it's usually good.  Haven't made this for anyone but Gretchen yet, but she loved it.  It's an alternative to making the usual lasagna for us.  The pepperoncini add a great level of spice to the sauce. 

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini peppers
1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes with added puree (such as Progresso)
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded provolone cheese, divided
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup (4 ounces) fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
1/2 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
2 garlic cloves, minced
20 cooked jumbo shell pasta (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat; cook 12 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup provolone and the next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium bowl. Spoon or pipe about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pasta shell; place stuffed shells in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon tomato mixture over shells; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup provolone. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese melts.
Yield: 5 servings (serving size: 4 stuffed shells)
CALORIES 394 (28% from fat);

Quick Vodka Chicken Cream Pasta

Got this from the Rachael Ray 30-minute meal book.  The basic recipe is simple and easy, almost too easy. So I'd recommend adding some chicken or sausage chunks. Gret and I have also learned that (out of necessity) raspberry vodka will work as well. 🙂

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
Coarse salt and pepper
16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn

Crusty bread, for passing

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Pass pasta with crusty bread.

Easy Fig and Blue Cheese Pork Tenderloin Roll

For Christmas Gretchen got me a subscription to cooking light magazine to help inspire some fun meals. Our goal is to pick two recipes each month to try out.  Last night we gave this one a try. I agree with the 5 of 5 star user ratings. 

This was totally easy. Slice open tenderloin roll, pound down to a roll-able thickness, wrap up dried figs and blue cheese crumbles, and cook for 25 minutes.  You get four servings of 274 calories each.  We served with a simple salad and wild rice on the side with a sangiovesi.

1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 cup dried figs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 Cooking spray
1 tablespoon apple jelly, melted

Preheat oven to 450°.
Slice the pork in half lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side. Open the halves, laying pork flat. Place pork between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle figs and blue cheese over pork, leaving a 1/2-inch margin around outside edges. Roll up the pork, jelly-roll fashion, starting with long side. Secure at 2-inch intervals with twine. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper, and place on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Brush jelly over the pork. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160° (slightly pink). Let stand for 10 minutes. Discard twine; cut pork into 12 (1-inch-thick) slices.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 slices)